October 15, 2010

Who is the real leader here?

Like millions of Americans, I was riveted to live images of the mine rescue in Chile. One emotion kept creeping into my mind: I couldn't help but admire Chile's President Sebastián Piñera-- and compare his bearing and leadership to that of America's own president, Barack Obama.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on the mining disaster: "Capitalism Saved the Miners." It wasn't only capitalism, of course. It also took a man like Chile's conservative president, a former businessman and Harvard-trained economist, to know how to leverage the forces of free-market capitalism to save his fellow countrymen.

Contrast Piñera's performance against what Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez did when tens of thousands of his fellow countrymen were killed and injured by devastating mudslides in 1999 -- he rejected a a U.S. Navy ship loaded with aid and military engineers from the United States in a fit of nationalistic bluster. That ship was steaming to Venezuela when Chavez announced that the aid was not welcome. For those who think that George W. Bush is responsible for all the anti-Americanism in the world, it should be noted that America's president in 1999 was Bill Clinton.

Had this mining disaster occurred in socialist Venezuela, it's safe to say that it would not have had a happy ending.

Congratulations to President Piñera, the rescued miners, and all Chileans who can be rightly proud of this wonderful mine rescue. There are many stories left to tell about this shining example of human courage, innovation, and cooperation -- all things that flourish in a world of responsible free-market capitalism where the human spirit is allowed to flourish.
--David Paulin

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